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buying a trainer, lease back?

Old 08-05-2022, 02:43 PM
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Has anyone bought their own plane for training and sold it after OR done a lease back to the flight school? Did it save you money or end up biting you? I just finished my PPL and am going to take it all the way through into a career so I have lots of rental time ahead of me and am considering this as a way to cut cost. I'd be okay with it getting used by other students and the wear and tear it would incur. I'd look at it purely as a tool to further my training and not as a sentimental item. My flight school is down a plane and actively looking so it could be good timing. However, a cursory search today leads me to the same problem the school is having which is all the PA28s for sale have high times and are asking 100k so it may be a moot point. But regardless, has anyone have an experience to share, good or bad?
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Old 08-06-2022, 10:04 AM
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I knew guys back in the day who bought twins to get their ME time. You needed 300+ ME back then lol. Their intent was to sell the plane as soon as they were done.

Whether that works out, depends on luck to a large degree... if you can get out without any big MX bills, you're money ahead. My friends were pretty nervous while they owned the planes. These were also mil guys (helo) so they could afford to buy planes.

In today's climate, if you wanted to hang on to it and lease it for training purposes you'll probably come out ahead due to the ongoing demand. Unless maybe you end up with a real lemon, but thorough pre-purchase homework should mitigate that risk.
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Old 08-06-2022, 10:15 AM
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Airplanes are not unlike real estate and right now I’m thinking the average SE is waaaay overpriced. You buy an $80k airplane that would have been $40k just three years ago.
You may have to take that hit when you’re ready to sell the aircraft.
I used it work for a flightschool that used almost exclusively lease back aircraft.
Wouldn’t do it if I where you.
Its an all around pain.

Last edited by TiredSoul; 08-06-2022 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 08-07-2022, 02:53 AM
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I did this. After one day teaching at the school I was there for 9 hours and was only able to log 4.

I bought a Mooney 74 m20c. Did some small upgrades and then sold half to another guy with the same mission as me me- build time. I flew that plane 700 hours and sold it.

Did the same with a twin. I bought it for 32 with a prebuy inspection that was 17 pages long. I spent the better part of a year dealing with mechanics and dumped 50k into it. New landing gear. New interior. New panel. New rubber everything. I flew it for just 25 hours and sold it in this market less than a year ago so I wouldn't lose money. Was stressed the whole time doing it. I should have just rented from someone. I guess the guy I sold it to is dry leasing it to a flight school and doing well. Insurance to do actual training killed any chance I could make it work for me
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Old 08-07-2022, 06:10 AM
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I flew that plane 700 hours and sold it.
How much did the 700 hrs cost you?
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Old 08-07-2022, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by TiredSoul View Post
Airplanes are not unlike real estate and right now I’m thinking the average SE is waaaay overpriced. You buy an $80k airplane that would have been $40k just three years ago.
You may have to take that hit when you’re ready to sell the aircraft.
I used it work for a flightschool that used almost exclusively lease back aircraft.
Wouldn’t do it if I where you.
Its an all around pain.
Tiredsoul is pretty much dead on here. All aircraft now are very overpriced. I fly a Cherokee Warrior that I've owned and restored for the last 14 years, with the new paint, interior and avionics, it's probably worth $100k. I bought it during the '08 recession for $15k and probably dumped $50k-ish into it over the years. In a normal market, I'd probably get my money (not labor, unfortunately!) out of it. Most fixed wing GA aircraft are 30-40% overpriced right now. But, on the other hand I've flown it about 1200 hours. I guess the question is, what's your mission? Buy it just for ratings? Keep it long-term?

I generally don't recommend aircraft ownership for the sole purpose of getting ratings to people, unless they have an A&P (and preferably have good GA Mx experience). You need to focus on getting the ratings, not aircraft ownership headaches. If after you get your ratings you still want to buy an aircraft (and have the financial ability), then go for it. If you do decide to buy an aircraft. GET A THROUGH PRE-BUY INSPECTION! I can't stress that enough. When I was working GA full time, I can't count how many people bought aircraft, and got a crappy pre-buy or none at all. After the first annual, they had more than the value of the aircraft invested in maintenance; or the aircraft was BER (beyond economical repair).

On my aircraft, normal maintenance would be about $3-4K a year at 100 hours a year (excluding upgrades) if I paid someone to do it. My insurance is about $1K a year for $100K hull, $1mil liability (I have about 1700 hours, since you're low time, your insurance might be in the 1.5-2K a year range). I live in a very low cost of living area and hangar rent is in the $200 a month range. One issue you might have is actually finding someone to work on said aircraft. A&P's are hard to find, and good GA A&P's are extremely rare.

If you're looking to lease back an aircraft, the insurance rates that I mentioned above jump to the $7-8K a year range. Also, if your aircraft is a lease back, it will be used on less of a priority than the flight school-owned aircraft. Honestly, I haven't witnessed a situation when the owner of a leaseback aircraft made money (usually they lost money). Also, your aircraft will be treated like...well... a rental. In some cases there might be some tax benefits to leasebacks, but for the most part, the above has been my experience. Hope this helps you out!

Last edited by 4020Driver; 08-07-2022 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 08-07-2022, 08:27 AM
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This is not meant as an insult to anybody but if the rental fee is $120 the profit margin is maybe $20-$30/hr after all cost deductions if the airplane flies enough.
If the aircraft flew 120hrs in a particular month the leaseback owner would get a decent check but if the airplane had a 40hr month the owner would OWE the school.
There’s obviously a break even point where you start to make money.
Does the school in question have enough business? The owner of the school I used to work for was very good at presenting believable numbers.
Now read that last sentence again, my choice of words.
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Old 08-07-2022, 07:22 PM
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Old 08-07-2022, 07:23 PM
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Also there are some good pilot / GA Facebook groups, and likely some in your local area (look for EAA chapters too). Doing some research there can also yield some valuable results.
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